Fata Morgana
08.03.2016 - 09.03.2016

Victor Balanon
Alvin Zafra

Our overloaded, chaotic, and hustling metropolitan lifestyle can easily turn us into callous pedestrians; forgiving inhabitants to aggravating minutiae of our surroundings; where objects of annoyance become bearable sights and turns to our acquired norms. In Fata Morgana, Victor Balanon and Alvin Zafra, investigate the truth of this predicament by tapping on images that activate the viewers perception of social constructs and contracts through familiar visages of the city and how our social apathy to our surroundings distorts our reality, creating an unconscious mirage. Balanon and Zafra borrows the term Fata Morgan, an optical phenomenon of object distortion, to appropriate their images and relate their concerns.

In Fata Morgana, both artists investigate the theme using their unique artistic styles of black and white images that effectively remove color bias and compel an onlooker to be an active participant of their undertaking. As cycling enthusiasts, the images they acquired of familiar urban terrains provide intimate scenes of facades, structures and concrete vistas that can easily be dismissed by passersby.

Through his trademark drawing process, Alvin Zafra, meticulously encapsulate scenic views in the metro but zooms in on the foregone landmarks of colonial and postcolonial times. The stillness and desolate quality of each image transforms long stretches of brick walls, monumental structures and intricate edifices into personal fragments of contemplation. Upon closer inspection we find different nuisance objects seamlessly incorporated into each scene as our casual interaction with them postpones our critical judgment; that things like discarded planks of wood, street posts and other unnecessary ornaments mar our sensory perception.

Victor Balanon’s ever-immersive panoramic drawings take us straight to each pathway and field as we walk along with him and experience his personal perspective. His seamless insertion of series of bollards in each scene creates a relational tension from the viewer to the immediate image. The manipulated ergonomics of the landscape raises concerns on the relevance of the visual barriers, the etymology of the object itself, the functionality of the antiquated design of bollards and why we perceive it in unity with the entire view. With the inclusion of this recurring element into Balanon’s outskirt cityscape views, the real turns to imagined and the anomaly turns to familiar.

Balanon and Zafra’s Fata Morgana echoes the relevance of contemporary artists to society; that they are not mere ambassadors of aesthetics nor passive observers. Rather, they are conveyors of reality. The transference of their select subject matters from photographs to rendered drawings also involves transmutation of their own social perception and the discerned cultural implications of their works. Fata Morgana, reflects the symptomatic nature of man in accepting fabricated realities as an escape route from the inconvenient, the unwanted and the uneasiness of life. Their new works of enchanting images are not meant to deceive, rather; they serve as visual sirens, in the persistence of truth and an insistence to critical thinking.

by leCruz

There Is Water Where The Sun Never Shines
08.03.2016 - 09.03.2016

Veronica Pee

There Is Water Where The Sun Never Shines | Veronica Pee

“There is water where the sun never shines”; describes a particular region of the Moon where ice water was found – which means there is the possibility of life on it.

I find the Moon to be a curiously recurring subject primarily because it is there, imposing its presence upon us like a reference point on existential issues.

It's been said that in the process of going to the Moon, we have discovered Earth.

I once had a dream that the Moon was so close to the Earth that I simply stretched out and hopped inside it. It was so real and unforgettable that I still see details of the surroundings vividly.

Painting the Moon relives the experience in my dream as if to reconstruct the terrains of the imagined landscapes. The objects are essentially inspired from the details and textures of the terrains which are in a way connected to our understanding on how we see the visible world and how we derive experience in looking at them.

When All Grounds Are Sacred
08.03.2016 - 09.03.2016

JC Jacinto

A dug hole can mean a lot of things. It could be a site for foundation, destruction, or grave. JC Jacinto explores this image which has become prevalent within our immediate surroundings; an image that has nearly become part of the Filipino consciousness.

There is not an instance nowadays where the travels of the city-dweller are not accompanied by this sight. There has not been any street of late that lies untouched by objectives that stem from either demolition or organization. JC Jacinto attempts to divulge visually the ironies that can be found among both concepts. Such as how, in demolition and destruction, motives are really directed towards creation and improvement; and how, in the desire for organization and rehabilitation, the road, literally speaking, would always be paved with bouts against chaos and misery.

In When All Grounds Are Sacred, Jacinto presents a visual catalogue for the ramifications incurred from what has virtually become a requisite for city life—dealing with street repairs and excavations. These are presented in an ominous yet captivating atmosphere that defines JC Jacinto’s art. His paintings, sculptures, and installations transmit a somber mood. Dark and hazy, but at the same time revelatory with its poignant handling of themes, where a sense of foreboding ensues, inviting us to look closer into scenes we may have taken for granted.

He does this via transformation—by defamiliarizing the commonplace. He does this by maximizing the effects of ambiguity, as demonstrated in some of his paintings involving sites of excavations and constructions. He pursues this by discreetly inserting characters that are seemingly out of place: a robed clerical figure mounted on heavy machinery, men in suits milling around a ditch, and workers standing about with vague tasks surrounding a digging site. These anomalous yet subdued juxtapositions present the kind of quiet desperation felt when trying to make sense of the symbols of ‘progress.’

In another group of paintings and sculptures, a different kind of direction towards ambiguity is used. By using light—as both formal and symbolic element—he adds a different dimension to the existence of these holes. From mere excavations they suddenly turn into hallowed grounds. There is light emanating from a dug furrow; there is fire blazing from a pit. There are faint traces of glow surfacing from inside a slab of concrete. These resound the ambivalence that surrounds these diggings: whether they are symbols of the city’s rebirth or are merely hordes of open graves. In Jacinto’s own words he observes, “Looking closely, there really is no difference between the act of construction and the preparation for death, between destruction and progress.”

In an installation involving shovels that are presented to mimic the structure of tombstones, he marvels at the irony that can be cast through objects: “The act of digging itself becomes ironic through the tool we employ. It is amazing how the shovel can symbolize the shape of a tombstone, which makes itself its own marker, buried by its own doing.”

Could this be the underlying concept that surrounds Jacinto’s works in When All Grounds are Sacred? That we have been digging our own graves all along for the sake of creation, progress, or survival? Through whatever aspect or circumstance we formulate our interpretations, one thing remains clear for Jacinto, and it is that these diggings have become part of the daily spectacle and have become the norm in most places, like in his own town of Cainta. And whatever permeates through our daily consciousness has the ability to seep into the inner recesses of the psyche. And through these sightings we develop the power to draw associations, to link them with one of its most archetypal symbols, which is the grave. And it is with this perpetual cycle that the streets of Manila serve as its metaphor, where the process of digging, constructing, replacing—and digging once again never ends.

by Cocoy Lumbao


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